History of national Internet domain

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History of national Internet domain[edit]

Author of the text: Slobodan Marković
Editors: Berislav Todovović and Mirjana Tasić
Published on 20 August 2006

The first register[edit]

Linking of SFR Yugoslavia into global electronic networks began at the end of the 80’s of 20th century. The European Academic Research Network (EARN) was functioning in Europe at that time. In 1988 the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Belgrade,[1] proposed that Yugoslav Universities join the EARN. The University of Belgrade became a node of the EARN in 1989, when the first international connection of the academic network between Belgrade and Linz became active.[2]

Since simplicity of TCP/IP protocol family caused sudden development of ARPANET (which later grew into the Internet), there was soon a need for establishing a "bridge" for exchanging electronic mail and data between the Yugoslav Academic Network (based on VAX servers connected to DECNET network and X.400 test platforms) and ARPANET. For the sake of establishing this connection, SFR Yugoslavia got its Internet top-level domain (TLD) - .yu.

The project of developing the academic network for SFRY functioned within the project of developing the system of scientific-technological information (SNTIJ). Besides the University of Maribor, the project was also managed by the institute Jožef Štefan from Ljubljana, so these institutions took over the responsibility of organising the first .yu domain register between 1990 and 1991.[3]

YU NIC[edit]

When the UN imposed sanctions upon FR Yugoslavia in 1992, network traffic with foreign countries was stopped and Yugoslavia was formally excluded from international academic exchange. With the breakdown of SFR Yugoslavia, the SNTIJ project ceased to exist but the .yu domain register remained in Slovenia.

When Slovenia got its national TLD (.si), members of the commission for SNTIJ from Serbia sent a letter to their colleagues in Ljubljana, with a request to transfer the .yu register into their authority.

Since no one replied to the letter for months, Ms. Mirjana Tasić from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Belgrade required help from international and European institutions dealing with managing the basic Internet services. Letters were sent to Jon Postel (IANA, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and colleagues from RIPE (Résaux IP Européens). The correspondence lasted until spring of 1994, when Jon Postel finally rendered judgment in favour of SR Yugoslavia. Since then, the management of the .yu TLD register was entrusted to Ms. Mirjana Tasić and a group of enthusiasts from the Universitiy of Belgrade (PhD Božidar Radenković from the Faculty of Organisational Sciences, PhD Đorđe Paunović from the School of the Electrical Engineering, Berislav Todorović and MSc Nenad Krajnović from the School of the Electrical Engineering, etc.), functioning under the name YU NIC - Yugoslav Network Information Center.

Setting up the first primary DNS servers for .yu TLD was not easy, since Yugoslavia was under sanctions and foreign companies were forbidden to establish any relationships with Yugoslav companies and academic institutions. At request of YU NIC and with kindness of staff from the Internet provider MCS.com, the .yu domain was hosted outside the country, with a request that MCS should not be responsible for maintaining the register of Yugoslav domains.

In order for this limitation to be overcome, it was decided that second-level domains .co.yu and .ac.yu should be created and directed towards other Internet servers, whose administrators would be willing to maintain the registers of .co.yu and .ac.yu domains.[4]

The situation was functioning in this way until 1995, when telecommunication links were again established with foreign countries. The primary DNS server for .yu TLD was then migrated to servers of EUnet in Netherlands and soon afterwards to servers of the School of the Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Organisational Sciences in Belgrade, where it is still located.

As could be anticipated from the story about the struggle for overtaking the responsibility over the .yu domain, official Yugoslav state institutions did not show much interest, during the 1990s, to support attempts of enthusiasts from YU NIC. Minimal financial support necessary for functioning of this group dried out as early as 1995, so YU NIC had to accommodate to a 'temporary situation, which became a permanent state of affairs.'[5]

The first consequence of this accommodation was limiting the possibility for registering .yu domains to legal persons only (companies, entrepreneurs, associations of citizens, political parties, etc.). Besides, another limitation was introduced – one legal person could possess just one domain name. These limitations were somehow mitigated by a decision of YU NIC not to charge for the service of domain name registration.

Reform initiatives[edit]

The accelerated development of the Internet in Serbia in the previous years brought the current way of functioning of YU NIC to a splitting point. The number of requests for domain registration, besides all limitations, grew to over 200 daily and the time of waiting for the domain activation was prolonged to approximately 20 days.

From 2000, numerous processes have been initiated with the aim of reforming the operations of YU NIC. In the mid 2001, a working group was formed within the Federal Institution for Computer Science. This group created the first draft of the new Rules for registration of .yu domains and new Articles of Association of YU NIC. At the end of 2002, following the dissolution of FR Yugoslavia, a working group within the Serbian Agency for IT and Internet was created. This group produced the second draft of the Rules for registration of .yu domains and a draft of the Registrant contract for registration of .yu domains (http://www.internodium.org/node/1824).

Finally, at the initiative of Ms. Mirjana Tasić (the current .yu administrator), an ad-hoc working group was formed at the beginning of 2005, with the aim to create founding documents of an organisation which should overtake the management of the .yu domain register. The group gathered, besides current administrators of the .yu register, representatives of Serbian ISPs, Telecom Srbija, the Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection, NGOs, etc. This group created a draft statute of the Serbian National Register of Internet Domain Names (RNIDS). A public debate on this document lasted from 20 March until 2 April 2006 (http://www.elitesecurity.org/forum/230).

During the several previous years, a consensus was reached within all working groups and the wider Internet community that it was necessary to:

  • Establish a cost-recovery organisation, which will function in the common interest (RNIDS will finance itself from charging for entering domains in the central register)
  • Represent all relevant interests in the process of developing and implementing the organisation's policy
  • Establish domain registration according to the registry-registrar model (RNIDS will maintain the central domain register, while registrars will enter domains into the RNIDS base at request of end users)
  • Abolish the current limitation in domain registration (citizens and organisations will be able to register an unlimited number of domains)
  • Establish fair rules for arbitration in resolving disputes about domain names

At the end of May 2006, the working group harmonised the final text of the Draft Statute of RNIDS and invited all interested parties to gather on 8 July 2006 at the Founding Convention of the new organisation.

During the following period, the Managing Board of RNIDS will work on creating organisational, technical and financial conditions for the responsible and reliable maintenance of the central register of .yu and .rs domains.

--- Footnotes:

  1. Currently the Faculty of Mathematics and the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Belgrade.
  2. The capacity of this link initially was 4.800 bit/s and it was later doubled to 9.600 bit/s.
  3. The first official administrator of .yu TLD was YUNAC, which was registered at the address of the University of Maribor.
  4. The Serbian scientific diaspora gave significant support to the initial establishment of the .yu domain register – professors, researchers and PhD candidates in various Universities in the world – who then accepted to administer second-level domains within .yu TLD.
  5. Urgent costs, such as failures of computer and network equipment necessary for functioning of the register, were mostly covered by the School of Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Organisational Sciences in Belgrade.


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